Today was an important milestone in GP2 Series history: for the first time the thirteen teams entered in the category for 2011-2013 ran their brand new GP2/11 cars at circuit Paul Ricard under clear blue skies and on a 3D configuration track. Only one car per team was used for this shakedown during which fast times were not the priority. The paddock also welcomed two new teams: Carlin and Team Air Asia who chose to run with Max Chilton and Johnny Cecotto Jr respectively.
And it was very clear that the Malaysian newcomers were looking to make history by being the first to take the track with Cecotto positioned at the pitlane exit ten minutes before the green light. Marcus Ericsson placed his Super Nova car in second position one minute before the pitlane opened, but as it did, Cecotto stalled and it was Romain Grosjean at Dams who surprised and passed both cars and became the very first one to take the track with the GP2/11.
Within the first hour of the morning session all twelve cars had done at least one installation lap. Soon enough, some drivers seemed comfortable enough to push a bit harder and seek performance, with Javier Villa at Arden International setting the fastest laptime of the morning session. A total of 145 laps were completed in three hours.
One of the big challenges of the day was of course for the teams to get familiar with the Pirelli tyres: with a total of 289 laps in the afternoon, teams could get a good first taste of their new rubber. Their first general comment was that the Pirelli compound was quickly up to temperature in spite of winter ambient temperatures and match very well with the general car behaviour.
GP2 Series Technical Director Didier Perrin said: “The objective of today was to make sure that all cars were all set to be shipped to the Middle-East for the first official test session which will take place in Abu Dhabi next February. The good surprise is that after one hour it felt like this was not a shakedown anymore but an almost normal and standard test session. Before lunchtime, teams were already starting to seek performance and engineers were looking at the screens to see who was going fastest.
“It is more than we expected for today. Everything went smoothly: last night, all engines had been fired up before midnight and this morning all cars took the track within the first hour of the day. We achieved a total of 434 laps. No technical issues have been found. It was amazing to see three cars fighting to be first on track this morning.”
Complete Entry List
iSport International Adam Carroll
Arden International Javier Villa
ART Grand Prix Esteban Gutierrez
Super Nova Racing Marcus Ericsson
Romain Grosjean Dams
Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni
Karun Chandhok Ocean Racing Technology
Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team
Stefano Coletti Trident Racing
Fabio Leimer Rapax
Dani Clos Racing Engineering
Max Chilton Carlin
Team Air Asia Johnny Cecotto Jr